YouTube Spotlight: Intelligence Squared Debates

I want to talk about a channel that features some intellectual jousting… or debates, as they are commonly called: Intelligence Squared Debates.


Intelligence Squared Debates has been around for quite some time, but I never really found debates interesting, as they normally were poorly moderated, and hence, ended up with people fighting, talking over each other and just being overall unpleasant.

These debates are different, and are very well moderated. They are moderated by John Donvan and cover a wide variety of topics from ethics, religion and politics. Regardless of what you’re interested in, you’re bound to find someone that you might find interesting. The debates last around 1 hour 30 minutes and take place in the Oxford-debate style. That is, they start with an opening statement, followed by an open discussion and questions and end with a closing statement. These segments are all, very carefully timed.

Before going into these, it is important to know a few things. First, make sure you go into these with an open mind. You might not agree with the motion. But the purpose of these debates is to see who argues better. You never know, you might find your opinion swayed just by watching these. I certainly have.

The other thing to avoid (and this should be taken as a general rule) is the YouTube like/dislike ratio. These debates can be highly controversial and as such, people have taken the liberty to downvote great debates because they disagree with the motion. Yes, this is not what the Like system on Youtube is for, but that is how people are using it, which can severely misrepresent the quality of the content.

There is some great content out on this channel and some of my favourite debates include the discussions on legalizing assisted suicide and the threatening of freedom of speech on university campuses. If debates are your sort of thing, or you’re interested in hearing some well-organized arguments from the other side, these channel might be for you.

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